Sunday, November 10, 2013


I have been in my room for most of this day, making the decision to clean out my closets and drawers. It was time to donate my clothes that I have not worn in a year or longer. As I was purging my things, I felt as though my journals were calling to me. The stacks of beautifully bound books with all  my thoughts about life, love, pain and injustice seemed to be saying, Look here, open me, read me. I knew in my heart of hearts that this is really what I have been needing to do for the past couple of weeks now. You see, I have to locate the entries that I wrote in my journal regarding the day in May of 2010 when the juror and the defendants girlfriend were having a conversation in the hallway of the Solano County Courthouse in Vallejo during a recess in trial for the murderer of my son.

I was told by the appellate state attorney that Henry Don Williams, the murderer of my son, was claiming that his girlfriend, who is now his wife, was approached by the juror in question and that he asked her for sex in exchange for his vote of Not guilty. She states that she never told anyone until recently because she didn't think anyone would believe her. Well, Guess what? No one believes you now either. 

What is truly alarming for me is the fact that when our family witnessed this conversation with the juror and the killers girlfriend, we immediately alerted the investigator and prosecutor. They then went into a closed session with the judge, both attorneys and the juror in question. The judge decided that the juror did no wrong and made the decision to allow him to stay on the jury. Our family was not happy with this decision and told the prosecutor that we wanted that juror removed and an alternate to replace him. I was told that is not how it works. The judge had the final say and he decided the juror did nothing wrong. Well what about the murderers girlfriend? She knew full well that man was a juror. She had been in the courtroom the entire time, just like us!

During the trial, in Vallejo, everyone is in the hallway together. I was told that in some counties the Defendant in handcuffs, is walked though the hallway where everyone else is. I'm not sure if that comment was supposed to cheer me up? IT DID NOT! It did however, move in me, a deeper desire to look at ways to change the ATTITUDE of, THIS IS THE WAY IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN DONE! I am confident that if there were another trial the outcome would be the same. The point for me is that WHY would we have to go through this again? Also, not to mention the millions of dollars spent on re-trials.  My hard earned tax dollars and yours. It's insane. I'm not naive. I realize that the criminals will always come up with new ways to buck the system. It's up to us to stay vigilant and not become complacent or apathetic.

My heart is forever broken and there will be no repairing the missing piece. Our son, brother, grandson nephew,cousin and friend, Gone.  

We have a system that needs some serious fixing. I'm not talking about just what we are going through.

I sat with my friend recently, as she waited for the second time to read her victim impact statement to a man who assisted in her sons murder. She sat for 2 hours, on 2 separate occasions waiting for the conflict public defender. He never showed up!  Oh my God! My heart was breaking for her as the DA and the victim advocate called all around to find the guy. Finally, after 2 hours she was told that the conflict public defender was in Vallejo court and couldn't get away. REALLY! He knew his client was being sentenced at 8:30 that day. He never called to say he would not be there. It was a horrible tactic, he used to postpone again! Who does HE answer to? Again, system failure.

 This is the kind of injustice I am talking about. Are you that IMPORTANT that you think it's ok to just not show up, AGAIN?  TWICE? Then to have the victim advocate mention a motion that the defense had filed but no one ever told my friend that a motion was filed! These are situations that MUST be addressed and rectified. I continue to watch this happen with many victims and their family members.

These are some of the same things which took place with our family when my cousin Kathy was murdered here in Fairfield in April of 1999. We were not notified of hearing dates/changes or motions filed on many occasions. The defendant had all the rights and representation. Our family was devastated. We had to learn to use whatever means we could, writing letters to the editor, going to news outlets, to bring any awareness to this serious misconduct by our system.

 Mack West was finally sentenced to 15 years to life in 2007. Which took place 8 years after he stabbed my cousin Kathy, more than 50 times with a sharpened screwdriver, and then threw her body out onto Cherry Glen Road. Just 1 year later, my son was murdered in 2008.

I know that our justice system does do some things right. I had two wonderful victim advocates during both murder cases of our loved ones. I am very grateful to have had them by my side. They were both compassionate and available to us.

I believe where change needs to take place, is in the attitudes and  behaviors of some of our attorneys.Yes, you need to give ANY information you receive about motions filed/hearings and changes in the location of hearings, to the victims and their family members, either yourself or through the victim advocate. If we don't have enough victim advocates to relay the information, then recruit and train volunteers! Attorneys you need to SHOW UP to the sentencing of your clients! Is this too much to expect?
Let us look into a redesign of our courthouses to ensure that the contact between jurors and defendants family members CAN'T HAPPEN. I'm sure this would be a lot less costly than re-trials.

 I will not be silent. We must be the voices for the victims and their families who continue to be traumatized by a system that needs to be updated.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King Jr

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